Archived Story

Foundation to benefit schools

Published 6:04am Saturday, September 29, 2012

For the past several years, state proration and reduced local funding have hit local schools hard.
To combat some of that, a group of local educators, business leaders and community members have formed a partnership that they hope will help the city school system for years to come.
The Russellville City Schools Education Foundation, a non-profit organization, has been established to raise funding for current and future educational opportunities.
Following an accreditation review in 2008, the system and community were encouraged to establish a foundation through which supportive and benevolent friends of the Russellville city schools could contribute financially to the system with tax deductible benefits.
The foundation is not a function of the city school board and the money generated is not used to help pay teacher salaries, benefits or to aid the school’s athletic programs.
According to foundation board member Judy Pounders, the sole purpose of the foundation is to provide teachers and students with better classroom opportunities.
“It’s all about the kids and providing them with all the tools they need to become successful,” she said.
The foundation’s board is comprised of 12 members and the system’s superintendent and is a cross-section of the community. The current board members are Chris James, who serves as president, vice-president Wayne Ray, secretary/treasurer Kristy Gist, Donna Barksdale, Matt Cooper, Susan Hall, Bettie Hillman, Shane James, Superintendent Rex Mayfield, Pounders, Ramona Robinson, Chris Wallace and Darren Woodruff.
West Elementary School principal Chris James serves as the first president of the foundation. He said the board’s only objective is to provide more opportunities for students.
“We want to look at what we can do to enhance what we are already doing,” he said.
“We want to expose the kids to more opportunities.”
Similar foundations have been in place for years in neighboring communities such as Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, Sheffield, Hartselle and Cullman.
The Russellville City Schools Education Foundation made its first contribution to local teachers earlier this month when 20 teachers were chosen from applications to receive $50 each for classroom supplies.
“We didn’t have a lot to give but we wanted to make sure the teachers were receiving what we had,” James said.
As time passes and more funds are generated, the foundation will be able to provide more to teachers for educational opportunities.
Several levels of giving are in place, including: Torch Bearer, which is $5,000 per year for five years; Champion, which is $1,000 per year for five years; Tiger, which is $500 per year for five years; Gold, which is $250 per year for five years; Black, which is $100 per year for five years; Cub, which is $25 per year for five years, and Spirit, which is a one time gift.
Honorary and memorial gifts will also be acknowledged. All donations to the foundation are tax deductible.
“This is a way that we can provide the best opportunities available for our children for years to come,” James said.
“But, it will take the community’s support and we hope the parents, teachers, alumni and supporters of the Russellville city schools will step up and help. This is something that will pay dividends.”
Donations can be mailed to: Russellville City Schools Education Foundation, P.O. Box 821, Russellville, AL 35653.

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